Two FIMM Group Leaders received funding from the ERA PerMed 2018 call

Congratulations to Tero Aittokallio and Olli Kallioniemi and their teams for receiving ERA PerMed funding for their personalized medicine research projects.

ERA PerMed is a funding instrument focused on supporting personalized medicine research projects, co-funded by the European Commission. With 32 partners from 23 countries, it aims to align national research strategies, promote excellence, reinforce the competitiveness of European players in Personalised Medicine and enhance the European collaboration with non-EU countries.

Research groups from several countries apply the ERA PerMed funding together for joint research projects while individual research groups are then funded by the individual funding organisation of the respective country. In Finland the funding comes from the Academy of Finland.

The funding decisions for the first (2018) ERA PerMed call with the theme of: ”Research projects on personalized medicine – smart combination of pre-clinical and clinical research with data and ICT solutions” have just been announced. Two of the six researchers in Finland receiving funding from this call come from FIMM. Congratulations to Tero Aittokallio and Olli Kallioniemi and their teams!

Our consortium partners have an outstanding expertise in genomics-driven precision medicine of pediatric tumors and in bioinformatics. While in 50% of the patients draggable targets can be identified, the rest lack actionable alterations. In COMPASS, we aim to improve these approaches by establishing the image-based functional drug testing for patient-derived cancer cells grown in 3D

- Senior Researcher Vilja Pietiäinen who leads the COMPASS project at FIMM

Our JAKSTAT-TARGET project is coordinated by Prof. Satu Mustjoki and the consortium includes not only key European researchers in the field of mature T-cell leukemias, but also two research groups from Toronto that focus on developing novel STAT inhibitors and bioinformatic methodologies. FIMM’s role is predictive modelling of combinatorial responses and identification of novel prognostic markers for patient stratification

- Tero Aittokallio, the FIMM PI of the JAKSTAT-TARGET project

Read more about the funded projects below!

Novel individualized therapies in JAK/STAT driven T-cell malignancies 

Coordinator: Satu Mustjoki, University of Helsinki

Mature T-cell leukemias/lymphomas (MaTCL) are blood cancers which usually have very poor prognosis. Current standard therapies (such as chemotherapy) are not very effective. Although MaTCLs consist of different cancer types, they also share some common features such as mutations in the JAK/STAT pathway genes. In this consortium which consists of international experts in the fields of clinical medicine, immunology, computer science and chemistry, we aim to understand basic biology behind the disease initiation and development and to discover new drugs which can be used in the treatment of MaTCL patients. We will use unique patient sample collections, clinical registries, novel mouse models and machine learning tools, and in the end our results will guide individualized treatment options for MaTCL patients and design of new clinical trials with targeted therapies.

Clinical implementation Of Multidimensional PhenotypicAl drug SenSitivities in paediatric precision oncology (COMPASS)

Coordinator: Olaf Witt, The Hopp Children's Tumor Center Heidelberg (KiTZ)

Paediatric precision oncology platforms (INFORM, MAPPYACTS, iTHER) have prospectively analyzed over 1.000 relapsed paediatric cancers by next generation sequencing and microarray-based technologies. While targets can be identified in 50% of cases, the remaining patients lack actionable alterations. This occurs particularly in brain tumors, sarcomas and neuroblastoma, indicating significant, currently unmet needs in precision medicine. The COMPASS consortium proposes that direct functional high-content 3D drug response profiling of patient-derived cancer cells will provide additional key information for precision paediatric oncology. We address four main aims: I) establish a standardized ex vivo drug response profiling platform, II) discover new biomarkers and molecular mechanisms for the drug efficacies seen, III) generate a large-scale open-access online data resource of drug efficacies with integrated omics data and IV) clinical translation by using the platform as a basis for clinical trials and future precision clinical cancer care.